On 8th April 2013, the former Atlanticist Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, died1 in London of a stroke after a long illness. Margaret Thatcher's passing drew to a close a period in the United Kingdom's economic history beset by chronic social upheaval and major re-arrangement of the United Kingdom's domestic economic systems. Thatcher's governance of the United Kingdom began in 1979 and ended on 1990 under the stewardship of the British nationalist Conservative2 movement. Thatcher's period in office is, within the United Kingdom, generally regarded as an important one and is commonly presented in the U.K., and particularly within the United States Empire (U.S.E.), as being the point at which the United Kingdom renovated its domestic outlook away from a Keynesian model of economic intervention and toward the doctrine of de-regulation and free-trade as set out by a number of U.S.E economic strategists. Thatcher's passing in the United Kingdom has been met with strident and widespread enmity and contempt3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 from the general domestic populace.
Chief among the complaints voiced by the public has been political and historical revisionism, continuing failure to address long-standing societal problems brought about by the mainstream political parties, continuing political sponsorship of division and national disharmony, enmity of political policy-making targeted at the poor, disabled, infirm and economically unviable, maladministration of the nation's finances, political hegemony and persistent centrist strategising.
The United Kingdom economy, 1945 - 1979
The United Kingdom's economic doctrine from 1945 onwards comprised a series of economic planning attempts to control national bankruptcy as a result of its involvement in the second pan-regional conflict of 1939 - 1945. After European hostilities had ended, the United Kingdom had been left with a domestic economy heavily geared toward the waging of war. Throughout much of the United Kingdom, domestic systems had been placed directly into the charge of the government under the national interest. London had been heavily damaged or destroyed, much of the U.K. business and industrial sector had been dispersed or weaponised and poverty, disease and general want were heavily articulated throughout the urban and rural belts. For the two year period after hostilities had ended, the U.K. governments first priority had been to return its domestic populace to their starting positions and to aid and assist sections of the populace that had been dispersed within hostilities at home and abroad. The national interest would allow government to reconstruct the United Kingdom's economy by controlling unemployment and national fiscal policy.
From 1945, and in the midst of a largely diffused nation state, the British labour Party came to power and embarked on a programme of recovery and reconstruction. Between 1946 and 1948, the British coal-mining industry was nationalised along with the Bank of England, the iron industry, the steel production industries, the telecommunications company Cable and Wireless, the Railway industries including associated infrastructure, the gas and electric industry and the civil aviation industry. The National Health Service (N.H.S.) was created charged with the supply of free health care to all British citizens. Further nationalisations took place between 1949 and 1951 bringing a total labour force of over 2.3 Million9 workers directly under government control. This did not constitute the majority of the labour force, and left the bulk of the British market economy intact. The private sector during this time was small, independent, poorly capitalised and inclined to avoid government intervention.
In order to ensure the viability of the nationalised government assets, each nationalisation was accompanied with an act of legislation which set into law the mechanism by which the government could control these assets. In addition, each nationalised asset was managed as though it were a private corporation10. The assets were given their own legal corporate status, accounts, control over employment strategy and were not protected from litigation from either its own employee's or third-parties. Unlike private companies however, each nationalised asset would be required to strategize according to government doctrine, allowing for government direction of the corporations affairs, according to the national interest. Pricing of goods and services could be controlled to prevent unfavourable preferences from forming.
Capital needed to provide funding for the nationalised industry would be provided from the treasury and protections from bankruptcy were provided in order to consolidate the national interest component of each nationalised entity. This series of protections provided an enhanced corporate acumen and allowed the nationalised entity to operate in a manner that could not be matched by the private sector under any known competitive model.
As this programme of government intervention got underway, the major war powers began the process of creating a new global order of economic planning which was planned to remove many of the economic problems which had brought Europe into conflict.
One year previously in 1944, the United Kingdom and other "victorious" states had assembled in New Hampshire, United States in an attempt to plan the post-war system of economic management toward long-term recovery that would become known as the Bretton Woods agreement.
During this meeting, two broad economic theories emerged as plausible contenders to articulate this new system of economic control, both centred on the concept of globalised institutions which would regulate the supply of a global currency11, a global bank12, and a global insurance scheme13 to control and quantify risk to the system. On the one hand, the United Kingdom advocated an independent global order in which the various objects of the new order would be held by international institutions. On the other hand, the United States advocated private control over these self-same instruments on behalf of the international community, a position strongly enforced by U.S. nationalists. The Bretton Woods consensus that would finally emerge from the Bretton Woods 'agreement' was one in which U.S. nationalists emerged victorious into an environment that would lay the foundations for the modern empire of the United States.
Four years later in 1948, after the Bretton Woods consensus had cemented U.S. international ambitions; the United Kingdom embarked on a long project of national economic planning14 in which much of the U.K's piecemeal welfare provision was collected up and congealed into one statutory economic national outlook that would define the nation for the remainder of the modern post-war period. The British model public sector was formed and enabled concepts of statutory welfare provision to the entire populace in the areas of healthcare, employment, pension and variable taxation based on the ability to generate wealth. This concerted policy would allow the United Kingdom to divide its economic systems into private and public spheres. The piece-meal components used to form the "Welfare State" were the National Insurance scheme15, the National Assistance scheme16, and the National Health Service scheme17. Along with inclusion of various acts of legislation, some of which dated back to the pre-war period, the United Kingdom could now articulate a symmetrical economy in which private enterprise would be kept separate from the critical infrastructure needed to provide aid and assistance to sections of the populace that were not available for exploitation under a free-trade system. This commonly includes the sick, infirm, elderly, pensionable and disabled, carers, those undertaking voluntary and charity work, those in sanction or imprisonment and other persons not available for economic activity.
The spark to action in the U.K. came into existence as the United States articulated itself into an Empire operating with a clearly stated goal to create a free-trade regime of global proportions, which would be targeted toward the private sectors of many economies within the United States reach. Indeed, the concept of a free-trade system was not new; the United States had supplied weapons and material to the allied powers throughout 1939 - 1945 and had used a strident system of economic free-trade and lend-lease to curtail spending excess. To the chagrin of many European partners fighting European fascism, persistent problems emanated from the United States which many placed at the feet of American economic planners.
For many, U.S. free-trade dogma was a system that had already shown itself to be ardent, complex and obstructive. For the British in 1948, this regime of free-trade was simply the continuance of a system that had already shown its notoriety, and in the absence of a war chariot in the post-war arena, would almost certainly manifest that notoriety among the ordinary economies of many nation states. This notoriety had created the mechanism by which the United Kingdom would not, alas, allow itself to present its critical infrastructure to the free-trade empire. In light of these far-sighted concerns, the United Kingdom would maintain cordial relations with the United States in every other respect.
From the 1960's, the United Kingdom experienced persistent setbacks as commonwealth nation member states in Africa left the commonwealth18. British attempts to keep control over resources alongside the French in south-west Asia failed as the U.S. looked19 on and the British private sector continuously misfired. The United Kingdom's relations with the U.S.E. began to sour as the U.S.E. developed serious problems of its own in Indo-China and with the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) In the 1960's, the United Kingdom experienced a perpetual state of economic flux in which it failed repeatedly to generate sufficient economic activity in its private sector. Throughout this period, the United States placed continuous indirect pressure onto the United Kingdom to enable its free-trade regime inside the U.K. and in the early 1960's, this pressure saw the U.K's application to join the burgeoning European Community blocked by French President Charles de Gaulle who suspected that the U.K. might be operating in collusion with the U.S.E. As a result, the United Kingdom engaged in a policy of domestic austerity by cancelling arms purchases from the U.S.E., withdrawing forces from South Yemen and evacuating all British military installations east of Suez except for Hong Kong.
Throughout this period, the U.K. private sector persistently under-performed and persistently under-reported its tax liabilities.
In 1969, and with financial help from U.S.E. Irish nationalists, disaffected nationalists in the British province of Northern Ireland articulated themselves into an armed movement with remarkable synchronicity to Marxist groups in Indo-China particularly those found in Laos20, Cambodia21 and Vietnam22. Within the ranks of the U.S.E., the provinces Republicans were lionised by nationalist groups23 that provided funding and material weapons to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (P.I.R.A.). Throughout the period around the late 1960's and into the 1970's, this strident Marxist polity routinely found itself entered into territories that were of interest to the U.S.E. and without fail, involved the use of armed struggle and targeted violence.
In the United Kingdom itself, this self-same Marxist polemic began to infest within Labour Unions particularly within the Dockers, coal miners, railway workers and public utility workers of different strands. From 1971 through to 1979, the United Kingdom became progressively paralysed by Indo-China'n Marxist polemic parading as wage settlement claims and anti-Imperialism. The vast bulk of U.K. Union members during this time were unaware of the wider polity in play, its international credentials, or the mechanisms by which that polity was being enacted.
In 1979, and with Britain laid low at the end of a long and concerted period of Atlanticist economic activity, the free-trade regime of the U.S.E.24 finally made its debut in the United Kingdom, at the hands of a new Atlanticist British political order.
The fundamental persona of the incoming government of 1979, headed by Margaret Thatcher, was covertly centred on enabling a free-trade regime within the heavily nationalised political territory of the United Kingdom. This polity was evident within the blueprint of Margaret Thatcher's government and manifested in the form of strident deregulation policy of British publicly owned assets in order to release funds from the public sector into government hands. The policy had many supporters among free-trade advocates especially within the U.S.E. at the time strengthened by the economic disruption the United Kingdom had been experiencing in the preceding years; most especially the rate of inflation. From 1973 to 1977, the United Kingdom had experienced an inflation rate that had not dropped below 10 per cent and at one point in 1975, had risen to 26.9 per cent25.
However, Margaret Thatcher did not overtly articulate this policy and little if any reference was made to it during the electioneering period of 1979; nor in the first tentative weeks and months of her first administration26. At the point of the formation of her first administration, the term "privatisation" did not exist, although most understood clearly the meaning of "denationalisation". In fact, the concept of privatisation encapsulated a complex series of policies including controlling the supply of money (monetarism), selling state owned assets, contracting out of government services, reducing public expenditure, reducing taxation levy and general re-arrangement of all activity between the public and private sector.
Alongside the introduction of these policies within the framework of privatisation, other policies of breaking apart the binding structures that held these assets together took place. From 1980 onwards, the United Kingdom's Trades Union movement was persistently assaulted using the entire strata of the government's toolset.
In the media, the private sector was represented in populist form by the magnate Rupert Murdoch, an Australian with strong links to the U.S.E. leadership training programs. In 1969, Rupert Murdoch had taken control of the "Sun" Berliner tabloid along with the earlier acquisition of the populist "Evening Standard". In 1981, he parametised his media holdings in the U.K. by purchasing the "Times" broadsheet format print newspaper. The "Sun" had a strong presence among those who performed manual and semi-skilled labour and the "Times" spoke to the managerial professional's. These acquisitions proved to be the primary plank in Thatcher's arsenal and were shamelessly used to derivate populist diatribe from the political plurality which had been mainstream in the U.K. since 1945. The mechanism by which this 'media policy' was enacted was often presented as though it were an accident of policy, but more likely was the result of ideological synchronicity between Thatcher and Murdoch as a result of their experiences in the U.S.E. under the U.S.E. leadership training programs.
These policies taken as one collective polity are generally understood in the United Kingdom as "Thatcherism", and in ontological terms as enforced invocation of a U.S.E. free-trade regime. Thatcher's later self-presentation as a dependent of the U.S.E. would fully realise this regime with strident tactical and strategic dependency on the U.S.E. in a number of areas.
Economic Reconstruction and Free Trade.
The United Kingdom between 1979 and 1990 experienced the end of the thirty four year period of nationalised industrial provision and publicly owned assets that had existed since 1945. The state owned assets that had been carefully crafted into modern institutions were progressively broken up and sold off to the private sector. In many cases, these assets fell into foreign hands with the British Thatcher government voluntarily abandoning their majority share positions, along with the national interest component of the nationalised asset.
Even though many of these assets had been profitable and were returning sizeable funds into the treasury, the government still scheduled them for release to the private sector. Indeed, the first state owned corporations that had been scheduled for privatisation during this first tranche of releases were profitable and had been chosen especially because they had presented as attractive options for private sector investors. The desirability of these first sell-offs to private sector interests, would create a convincing environment under which further privatisations could occur of assets that were not profitable.
At the time these conversions of state assets took place, a political narrative hostile to the entire concept of nationalisation had already formed within the Labour and Conservative parties. This led to these assets being converted toward the private sector in an economic marketplace that was not performing correctly, and so no competent judgment could be made about the viability of each asset as it would then perform inside the private sector. However, the Thatcher government of 1979 had a political position that was not fully known to the Labour party; in that the conversion of the nationalised assets would go far further than simple privatisation, it would enable a U.S.E. free-trade regime in the British economy and would fully articulate the United Kingdom into strident complacent dependency on the U.S.E.
This articulation of the U.S.E. free-trade regime could be seen at that time not in the collective polity of privatisation, but in the destruction of the social order that held those nationalised assets together; the British labour force.
The Ridley Plan.
In a policy document created in 1969 by the Conservative "Selsdon Group", the ideas of the American religious polemicist William John Henry Boetcker27 were outlined by the Conservative Party as a means to enable U.S.E. economic thinking within the context of a nationalised industrial system. The report attempted to set out Conservative thinking in the approach to the 1970 general election and covered economic thinking right through to methods of social control and personal responsibility within the general populace. The report was almost certainly the product of U.S.E. efforts to bond U.K. political leaders to its own imperial "outlook" through the U.S. Department of States "International Visitor Leadership Program" (I.V.L.P)28. In 1970, the Conservative government of Edward Heath formed and set about attempting to control high inflation by capping public sector pay within the nationalised public sector. This immediately set the Heath government into a position of conflict with the United Kingdom's 2.3 million public sector workers, which eventually articulated into a serious conflict with the one of the U.K.'s largest Trades Unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (N.U.M.). At the apex of this conflict, was the high price of coal driven by the Middle East oil embargo, which in turn had been brought about by U.S.E. foreign policy in south-west Asia.
The poverty of the situation brought about by Heath's misadventure articulated into a national crisis and brought about a series of emergency measures including the closing of U.K. industrial output in order to conserve energy. The three day week left much of the U.K. economy severely damaged. Heath called a snap election and was defeated by the Labour leader, Harold Wilson. Within the Conservative Party, the misadventure was de-recognised and instead, a series of hard-liners at the periphery of the party structure narrated a political defeat at the hands of the Trades Unions with an attached suggestion that the Trades Union movement in the United Kingdom had links with international communism, and therefore groups that were in conflict with the U.S.E. Perhaps the most important of these, was the Conservative MP, Nicholas Ridley, a "Selsdon Group" member and arch Thatcherite.
In 1974, the Selsdon Group met again and began the process of formalising this narrative of failure at the hands of the Communist N.U.M through the formation of a strategy that would be used to engineer a confrontation with the U.K. Trades Union movement. The "Ridley Plan"29 is perhaps one of the most infamous of the post-war period in the United Kingdom. In it, Ridley outlined a strategy for the complete destruction of the relationship between the public and private sector and exhibited serious and disturbing shortcomings in his understanding of the economic systems in place within the United Kingdom. Fundamentally, Ridley exhibited a complete failure to understand the weaknesses inherent within the private sector model and failed to understand that if national economic planning was formulated exclusively around the private sector, the national interest would only be as secure as the weakest link in the private sector chain. By definition, the public sector had a component within it that would act as a barrier to external forces and would protect the workforce and management from external influences, whether that originated from the market or from external sovereign forces. For Ridley, the public and private sector were defined as weak and strong, idle and energetic, wasteful and profitable respectively.
By far and away the most serious lapse however, was in the Ridley's terminus failure to understand the notion of competitiveness. The Conservative ideology of economic and trade based competition was parochial and confined to strategic economic planning exclusively within the British economy. The economic systems that existed on the global stage were undeveloped and not yet realised into free-trade systems by the U.S.E. The World Trade Organisation (W.T.O.), at the time, was not aware that it would ultimately fail in its objectives to create a single economic order exclusively controlled by the U.S.E.'s free-trade regime. Globalisation had not yet revealed many of the problems that would later go onto spark a global economic slump in world trade. Competition for Ridley was a simplistic concept determined exclusively by capital, production, distribution and unit costs.
In order to remain competitive, Ridley believed that low unit costs would ensure efficiency and inevitably bring about greater profit and customer satisfaction through lower prices. In a global context, Ridley's thinking was hopelessly inadequate as it completely failed to understand that the international economic order would be riddled with national and diplomatic interests. The concept of competition here was nonsense. In a globalised economic system, economic activity is often weaponised by government with the intention of realising political and corporate influence beyond the border.
Ridley's thinking was devoid completely of these obvious and easily understood facts. His heavy dependency on enacting the agenda of Thatcher's covert free-trade regime on behalf of the U.S.E. would place a heavy burden on the United Kingdom by exposing almost all of its economic systems to the political and diplomatic activity of foreign states. Ultimately, that would lead to a defenestration of the United Kingdom's wealth and political influence and would bring about an uptick in the United Kingdom's need to engage in state aid activity; the exact antithesis of correct economic activity as represented by Thatcherite dogma. Indeed, by 2012, the European Commission had given €682,900,000,00030 (six hundred and eighty two billion, nine hundred million euro's) in guarantee's and liquidity measures and €31,700,000,000 (thirty one billion seven hundred million euro's) in recapitalisation and consolidation of impaired assets to the private sector as a result of the 2007/8 global financial collapse. This collapse was certainly driven by international political influences emanating from within the private sector.
At the time, however, Ridley may not have been entirely concerned with these failings but instead concerned with using his political influence to break open information key to the commercial health of the public sector nationalised assets. Ridley had previously worked in the civil engineering private sector which would have considered the public sector an obstinate competitor. His placement into the political sphere would have given Ridley a profound opportunity to engineer an attempt to gather commercially sensitive information about the U.K.'s nationalised industrial assets which is clearly evident in his 1974 report. To this end, Ridley employed a number of criticisms of the nationalised industries of the U.K. and set them out in piece-meal fashion; some were considered, others spurious.
Unit costs are vital information in relation to measuring efficiency. Any attempt to improve efficiency must start from considering unit costs. In the nationalised industries the output is measurable and unit costs can be maintained. The strange thing is that this information about unit costs is not made available publicly, although it is probably available to managers in the nationalised industries. This information would be of the greatest value in monitoring efficiency.-linefeed edit ends- Parliamentary Questions asking for information about the unit costs of nationalised industries and the comparable costs in other industrialised countries are answered by Ministers by saying that the information is not available. It is clear from answers that the civil service either does not know or will not release such information.- Nicholas Ridley, the Ridley Plan. 1974 - Published 1977.
The Ridley Plan was strident in its approach to the efficacy of the public sector and no stone was left unturned in the pursuit of control of the nationalised assets by the private sector. The mechanism by which the public sector could raise capital was attested to, and placed in direct proximity to the private sector equivalent. It is here that Ridley's most shocking inadequacy revealed itself in his insistence that the government controlled assets of the nationalised sector should be subject to the same market forces as the private sector. After many U.K. corporations had been nationalised in 1945, a clear governmental purpose had been engineered into the assets in order to ensure that they could be protected in the national interest. This would not only protect these nationalised assets from becoming subject to foreign control, but would also ensure non-proximity to economic flaws or collapses brought about by the untimely failures of foreign economies. By buttressing the public sectors capital funding requirements to the private sector, Ridley had set into motion the removal of the national interest from the economic planning systems of the United Kingdom, and had laid the foundations for torrid exposure to the economic shocks and quakes that would bedevil the global economy in the next century. As a result, the concept of government intervention and state aid would eventually emerge to dwarf the Lassaiz-faire free market dogma of the Thatcher years.
New advances of capital for the industries should be made at a price a little above the cost of capital to the Exchequer, at the time they are drawn, in order, as nearly as possible, to lend to the industries at the same interest rate at which the private sector borrows. This control mechanism is analogous to cash limits. It could be used to squeeze public industry a little over the years - but it must not be used to squeeze too hard or it would break down. It would be important to establish that the required rate of return was totally inflexible. It must eventually be taken for granted that in order to meet the obligation plants must be closed and people must be sacked. It would therefore be trebly important for the obligation to be worked out realistically - first in relation to the likely rate of inflation, secondly, in relation to the likely relative movement of wages between different groups, and thirdly in relation to the possibility of improving productivity. The importance of such a policy should be stressed. If the required rate of return on capital was not achieved, either management must demonstrate that it was taking effective action to rectify the omission, or it must be replaced. Effective action might mean that men would be laid off, or uneconomic plants would be closed down, or whole businesses sold off or liquidated.- Nicholas Ridley, the Ridley Plan. 1974 - Published 1977.
The Ridley Plan also outlined the concept of bankruptcy and how it might be used to control the public sector. Ridley believed that an ultimate sanction should exist within the public sector in the same way that it existed in the private sector. While this had currency in the period in which the Ridley Plan was formulated, the concept of bankruptcy has since been eclipsed by economic intervention and state aid in which corporations are simply bailed out when bankruptcy threatens. This state aid polity is now firmly articulated as the global norm, and attests persuasively to the novelty value of much of today's private sector now enjoying many of the benefits of protection that were available to the nationalised assets in the past. For many around the world, this articulates as Socialism for the elite, Capitalism for the masses.
But it is here in the area of manpower, labour, wages and the collective bargain that the Ridley Plan's most volatile and most telling assaults on the public sector took place. Ridley was a product of the Thatcher polity and was, directly or indirectly, an arch advocate of the U.S.E. free-trade regime that Thatcher and the British Conservative Party were attempting to enable in the United Kingdom. In all cases, the polity of the U.S.E. was not Capitalism, Socialism or any number of political ideals common to the nations of the world. The polity of empire...is Empire, and to this end any political polemic might be used to enable the continuance of the empire. In Thatcher's government, this was bound to be seen in some form or other. In the event, it appeared as a policy of political division and separatism, what many now accept as economic sectarianism.
The purpose of the enactment of this policy of division in the context of the U.S.E. free-trade regime was to bring about an end to the U.K. public sector by breaking it up and disabling the monopoly that it held over the U.K. economy. Although the nationalised industries in the U.K. had never really operated as a monopoly (due to the national interest component of its business), Ridley and the wider U.S.E Conservative Party of Thatcher, certainly took the view that the British private sector was operating at an economic handicap. Ridley took the view that the breaking up of this supposed monopoly would be enabled by act of legislation. Ridley's bill recommended transferring the licensing of coal mines from the National Coal Board (N.C.B.) over to the relevant government minister restricting conditions of licence to safety considerations only and transferral of royalties from the operation of these pits to the state. In addition, private generators of electricity would be allowed to sell electricity directly to the national grid. The Post Office (P.O.) would be split into two division's separately processing telecommunications and postal deliveries, along with breaking the P.O's delivery of its services to subscribers, and allowing private operators to take over delivery of the post.
In the steel industry, government power to approve private sector investment would be ended and in transport, the licencing system would be ended. Ridley suggested inclusion of further industries in the proposal, along with the possibility of drafting the legislation in blanket form. If this legislation were to be adopted, Ridley supposed that a formal policy of fragmentation of the entire public sector (denationalisation) would then be possible.
It is essential to get away from the concept of wage compatibility and to substitute that of public vulnerability. Just because one industry pays 25% more, there is no need for another industry to pay more. The things that should really determine wage settlements are...shortage or surplus of manpower in the industry concerned [and] the vulnerability of the nation to strike. Either or both of these two should always be the determining factor. Legislation to deal with tax refunds and unemployment pay for strikes would be far more likely to succeed than making strikes illegal in certain sensitive industries. Salary scales, particularly in the last two years of incomes policy, have become hopelessly compressed, making promotion often unwelcome and making it increasingly difficult to attract good managers. There must be far higher rewards at the top in future, including if possible some sort of extra payment for success. There has been a tendency for nationalised industry boards to seek to centralise, unify and concentrate power. The opposite is needed - diversity, smallness and independence. Our political objective must be to fragment the public sector of industry into a number of independent units, which could eventually be denationalised.- Nicholas Ridley, the Ridley Plan. 1974 - Published 1977.
The Ridley Plan acts as an economic blueprint for the period and permits a comprehensive identification of a wider international polity in which the British public sector was broken apart in order to enable a free-trade regime in line with the aims and international ambitions of the U.S.E. Specifically, the free-trade regime attacked the British public sector in order to remove capital funding for a number of corporations and industries, to break apart the spread of those industries and corporations inside the United Kingdom, to end the protected status of these industries and the national interest that they safeguarded, and to segment the Trades Union structure by using an abstract sectarian policy in which reward and sanction was selectively applied to enable division and disruption. These demarches were enabled in the industries of coal, shipbuilding, docks and ports, airports, automobile manufacture, freight and transport, steel and iron production, aerospace, nuclear fuel, telecommunications; gas, electricity and water supply, post and telephony and the underground and overground railway system. In each of these industries, the purpose had been to fragment each sector, in order to guide them into complete denationalisation.
The Ridley Plan has often been cited by its advocates as a logical statement of the period in which much of the United Kingdom's economic systems had fallen under the control of Communist influences. To reinforce this diatribe; the nationalised industrial quarter was often targeted as the object of that Communist influence by demonising the Trades Union movement and those who made up the public sector workers who worked within that quarter. As Ridley had shown in his plan, this was not the result of an actual Communist influence operating in the U.K., but was the result of serious and chronic problems with a private sector that could not compete with a protected public sector. The private sector could not gain funding from the domestic banking sector due to poor fiscal performance, could not survive losses of profitability without becoming bankrupt and could not compete with low unit costs available to the nationalised industries. The private sector that Ridley inhabited was a poorly performing and perilous sector that simply could not compete. In an attempt to secure a higher ground for private corporations in which to operate, Ridley openly advocated the breaking apart of the public sector and simply ignored or dismissed the chronic social problems which would emerge as a result.
Consequences and effects.
The consequence of privatisation for the United Kingdom has been chronic unemployment31 which is now firmly and intractably embedded into the U.K. economy. The overall unemployment rate within the United Kingdom between 1971 and 1995 is broadly comparable to the period between 1914 and 1938, although in the second period a more sustained higher rate of unemployment existed due to the period coinciding with the Great Depression period. While the later period (13 per cent) did not present an unemployment rate as high as the first period (22 per cent), a similar pattern exists between the two in that very high rates of unemployment occurred after periods of general stability and high employment. At the point immediately before Thatcher's privatisation programme had been invoked, unemployment as a percentage of the workforce had been 2.7 per cent at its lowest, and 6.1 per cent at its highest. After Thatcher's election to office, unemployment rose to 7.4 per cent and then increased to 11.4 per cent in 1981 and then to 13 per cent by 1982. Unemployment did not fall below 10 per cent until 1988. From 1995 onwards, the rate of unemployment fell persistently to just above the historical level it had been in the immediate years prior to Thatcher's arrival finally arriving at a low of 4.8 per cent in 2005. In the early part of 2008, the rate of unemployment rose again to 8 per cent of the workforce where it became subject to arrest by misreporting errors in government record keeping. These misreporting errors are almost certainly the result of government confusion between self-employment and unemployment status.
As a result of this failure to control unemployment in the first part, and the failure to report correct unemployment figures in the second part, major and long-lasting social problems have become embedded within the United Kingdom including long-term social welfare dependency32 and a rising rate of crime, both petty and so serious. Ironically, this has brought forward a planned decrease in public sector spending on unemployment provision over the long term. Even so, current public sector spending in this age of austerity continues to justify public sector unemployment welfare spending cuts33 on the basis that spending in this area is too high. In reality, spending in this area is historically low. In this sense, free-market dogma is clearly not always based on sound financial logic, but on anthropolitical superstition.
In addition, perhaps more serious handicaps exist for the United Kingdom in its inability to exercise the national interest in economic form. Under Ridley's private sector model, the national interest does not exist in cogent form and the associated problems that have presented as a result of this have left the United Kingdom in a period of international diplomatic weakness. In an economic system in which the national interest operates solely in the domestic sphere; price fixing, monopolies and employment doctrine can all be controlled with ease to ensure continuity of government policy across administrative periods. In a globalised world in which the national interest is in competition with strident competitors, government policy acts in concert with the entirety of its holdings at a national level, providing greater flexibility for government policy at the international level. In a globalised world in which a government cannot enact its national interest in economic form, a compelling downward momentum will inevitably defenestrate that government to the point it has no national interest to leverage its international position.
The consequences and effects of the Thatcher model of privatisation on the British economic systems have been severe and long-lasting for the people of the United Kingdom, and have weakened the state on the international stage. Unemployment has now become a persistent problem nationally with little political will being enacted to bring it down to a convincing historical low. Higher public sector spending on welfare and crime has placed many into a state of historical criminality or extended welfare dependency. At any given point in time within the United Kingdom, at least 8 per cent of the workforce is now condemned to unemployment and in some areas of the United Kingdom such as South Wales, Scotland and the north of England; lack of industrial output or investment routinely renovates that unemployment into long-term unemployment.
There is no doubt that at some time the enemies of the next Tory Government will try and destroy this policy...Some issue of discontent will be found, where feeling is strong, and the full force of the communist disruptors will be used to exploit that discontent. Doubtless it will occur in a 'vulnerable' industry - coal, electricity, or docks for instance. The strategy for countering this threat should be as follows...we should design our return on capital figures to allow some scope...for paying a higher wage claim than the going rate...we might try and provoke a battle in a non-vulnerable industry, where we can win. The most likely area is coal.- Nicholas Ridley, the Ridley Plan. 1974 - Published 1977.
From the 1990's onwards, the Conservative Party struggled with a striking degree of unpopularity and on 14th July 1990, Nicholas Ridley resigned34, 35 from the Thatcher cabinet. On 28th November 1990, Margaret Thatcher resigned from office. The Conservative Party remained in power for another seven years under John Major and it is during this benign period in the U.K. political history that the U.S.E. free-trade regime embedded to such a degree that the United Kingdom became a complacent dependency of empire.
The Conservative Party were never in practice able to overcome the damage they had created at the heart of the U.K. economy. What became large scale unemployment, then became long term habitual unemployment; which then became long term benefit and welfare dependency. In amongst the communities, shires, counties and cities of the United Kingdom, there are now examples of substantive irredeemable social disorder which have developed entirely as a result of the Ridley Plan thinking, and the Thatcher government's enactment of that thinking.
The dependency of the United Kingdom on the United States Empire - The Special Relationship.
The dependency of the United Kingdom on the United States Empire as enabled by the government of Margaret Thatcher between 1979 and 1990 is very difficult to determine from the point of view of establishing a starting position. It is certainly true that the beginnings of this dependency solidified between 1983 and 1990 in economic terms, as this is the period in which the bulk of the Ridley Plan was enacted by the Thatcher government. However, events involving the U.S.E. especially in and around south-west Asia are also certain to have played a part. It is possible to determine with reasonable accuracy that the dependency required a symbolic event to articulate its beginnings. This event certainly did not occur before the Falklands conflict between the U.K. and Argentina in 1983 or the U.S.E. invasion of Grenada; a member of the British commonwealth in the same year, and had certainly already occurred before the point at which the south-western Asian state of Iraq had become a complacent client state to the U.S.E in 1990. It is likely, that the symbolic act of dependency was fully articulated sometime between 1985 and 1987.
In January 1986, the government of Margaret Thatcher expended a senior Cabinet Minister with strategic links to the media publishing industry and lost a further Minister accused of leaking material relating to the takeover of a British aerial defence contractor by the U.S.E. Sikorsky Corporation. The Westland affair was an especial event due to the attempt at corporate protectionism which had been attempted by the Minister Michael Heseltine involving a number of European defence interests, in which a clear refusal to purchase aerial assault weapons from the U.K. was engineered in the event that Sikorsky took control of Westland. The affair proved especially damaging to the Thatcher government and had the capacity to bring about the government's failure.
Three months later, Margaret Thatcher acquiesced to U.S.E. requests to allow military aircraft to fly from U.K. airspace to carry out the bombing of sites inside the North African state of Libya. The bombing operation was cited at the time to have been in response to a number of incidents that the U.S.E. had engineered off the coast of Libya, but is more than likely to have been a pre-planned exercise in tactical theatre operations involving the deployment of U.S.E. aerial force operations throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Six months later in October 1986, the Thatcher government undertook a very serious and alarming action that finalised the United Kingdom's failure to stand in witness to its own material self-interest. The primary component of its economy, the stock exchange, was broken open to U.S.E. financial interests in order to allow them to operate throughout the economic systems of the European Community and beyond. What later became popularised as "The Big Bang", was certainly the most serious act of outright defenestration of material interests experienced in the U.K. during the post-war period. The deregulation of the British financial markets would allow U.S.E. financial interests to openly trade U.S.E. domestic dollars on international markets 24 hours a day, in tandem with U.S.E. attempts to consolidate the spread pattern of its dollar currency among all known markets throughout the world. The "Big Bang" deregulation of the British financial markets secured the United Kingdom's dependency to the U.S.E. in economic form and ended all known economic instruments of independence.
It is at this point: between January and October 1986, in which the U.S.E. was able to engineer complete free-flowing economic and military operations within the U.K. that most probably demarks the point at which the United Kingdom became a dependency of the U.S.E. Indeed, the U.K. has failed to stand aside from U.S.E. operations from that period to this.
From 2001 to present, that dependency has fully articulated and has manifested as bi-polar strategic multilateralism in which both the U.S.E. and the U.K. have assaulted a number of foreign states throughout south-west Asia and beyond. In one case, the assault was unprovoked and illegal under international law. Only the continuing polity of dependency between the United Kingdom and its parent the U.S.E. safeguards the continuing liberty of those who engineered that assault. However, the U.S.E. is not a perpetual entity and persuasive evidence now exists that it has entered a period of decline. It is routinely recognised within the U.S.E. that the term of life that the U.S.E. might have available to it was short-lived to begin with36.
The British political scene is a curious blend of the public and private sector interspersed among a market economy. In the public sector, nationalised industrial output has been under government control and this has had a strident effect on the national employment rate, wage settlement claims, capital funding, collective bargaining and the wider national interest. At its height, the post-war public sector employed around 2.3 million workers. In the private sector, the post-war environment has been a particularly difficult environment in which the nationalised industries have been too large and well protected to compete with. The shareholding model of private ownership along with the need to raise capital from other elements of the private sector rendered the post-war private sector too weak to compete with its public sector equivalent. This failure often led to private sector bankruptcy. The market economy, in which the populace engage in ordinary economic activity which is neither nationalised, or subject to ownership by a shareholding controller, is by far the largest sectional element of the British economy. By comparison to the market economy, the public sector articulated a strong second position in terms of size and strength with the private sector trailing badly. This order remained in place for 34 years between 1945 and 1979.
In 1979, the private sector found itself in tangential favour among the political classes of the U.S.E. Republican Party operating in conjunction with the British Conservative Party. This synchronicity brought about a strident private sector assault on the economic systems of the United Kingdom to such a degree that the previous nationalised assets (public sector) of the United Kingdom's economic systems was assaulted, fragmented, and then placed into ownership by private sector interests under a programme that later came to be known as privatisation. The national interest components of the nationalised assets were defenestrated. This order has remained in place for 34 years between 1979 and 2013.
In 2007, the economic systems of most of the developed world were tossed into chaos as many of the privatised entities in the private sector failed. This forced many governments around the world to directly intervene into the private sector by injecting capital from the public sector (government taxation and contingency funds) into the private sector. Without this state aid, the economic systems of the United Kingdom would have become inoperable. At a stroke, the private sector had been revealed as a dependent sector whose survival could not be assured without state aid from the public sector. The concept of independence from state actuated by free-market dogma failed among a shower of public sector interventions. These simple facts are now uncontested throughout the entirety of the world's economic systems.
However, the British political scene is also an omissive entity, in which the presentational dimensions of the British economy are habitually confined within a strictly domestic sphere. In 1979, the privatisation programme that brought to an end the nationalised industries had also ended the national interest component of that national asset. This could not have been possible without the political and theoretical economic synchronicity which had been created between the United States Empire, and the United Kingdom. Along with the breaking up and selling off of the nationalised industries of the United Kingdom, the national interest component of those industries was also destroyed. By this act, was the agenda of empire enabled politically within the U.K. Most probably from the period of 1986 onwards, the United Kingdom's inability to enact its national interest from within its economic systems inevitably brought its political systems into dependency on the economic systems of the United States. The United Kingdom has failed to stand aside from U.S.E. operations from that period to this. In all narrative matters regarding the United Kingdom's national and international posture, economic well-being represents the sum total of all political debate.
The United Kingdom had become a complacent dependency of the United States Empire.
As the former Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, passes into the myth of modern English political history; the legacy she enabled 34 years ago has now come to an end. Gone is the concept of free-market invincibility, gone is the economic polemic of competitive envy and class-war, gone the concept of transparency of state. In its place appear the concepts of state intervention, imperial dependency and regional multilateralism.
The legacy of trans-Atlantic dependency embarked on by Margaret Thatcher, is the mechanism by which the U.S.E. engineered its ability to command economic, political and military obedience from an internationally respected nation state at the western edge of Western Europe. The international ambitions of the U.S.E. were enabled within the creation of this trans-Atlantic dependency. These ambitions have not, however, materialised. The legacy often claimed by private sector political advocates in the United Kingdom has not, therefore, realised an end to the nationalised asset model of economy within which to exercise the national interest. Neither has it realised its dream of economic interdependency.
It is exactly thirty four years since the Thatcher legacy came forward. Coincidentally, exactly thirty four years elapsed between the initial formation of the nationalised state asset model in 1945 and its removal by Thatcher and her government in 1979. These facts seem, on the face of it, to be odd. On the face of it, the oddity of the legacy of the Thatcher administration seemed at the time to be a great leap forward for the United Kingdom, as the people came to understand that the freedom of the individual was supposedly linked to the right of that individual to live as a fiscally abstract entity; alone, unconnected and self-reliant. According to Conservative dogma, the freedom of the individual could only follow behind the conceptual realisation that an individual should be personally responsible for all aspects of her freedom. The freedom to be solvent, the freedom to be profitable, the freedom to be bankruptable, the freedom to be a self-contained cellular component of a larger working hive.
However, this oddity may better be explained not in the lofty terms of existentialism, but in that which is omitted from the narrative as it has been formulated over the years. In reality, the freedom of the individual has come about by military might, violent intervention and obstinate realpolitik.
The freedom's we have enjoyed in our modern period are not the freedoms given to us by the gentrification and systemisation of our economy, but by the might of an empire.
The Thatcher legacy is not derived from what we know to be true, but by what we don't know at all.